I’m not nearly as enthusiastic about regulating social media as many of my progressive friends, but I don’t have a problem with the recent binge of tossing people off Twitter and Facebook. After all, we’ve just witnessed the president of the United States using Twitter to gather a huge mob of supporters and incite them to riot at the Capitol in order to overturn the results of an election and keep him in power. We’ve witnessed—and continue to witness—dozens of members of his party taking his side. We have credible evidence that another mob might be coming to Washington DC around Inauguration Day.
If this isn’t a good enough reason for a few private companies to restrain the voices of insurrection, I don’t know what is. I can live with this pretty comfortably even if I don’t want to see them make a habit out of it.
However, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll say again that all the attention being given to social media is basically a distraction. Sure, the insurrectionists used social media to help organize things, but people have organized protests in Washington DC before with little trouble. Nor was social media necessary to inflame to mob. The 2009 tea party movement did just fine without much in the way of social media.
The source of all this was, as usual, Fox News and the mainstream right-wing media empire. It wasn’t social media that convinced 70 percent of Republicans that the election was stolen. It was Fox News. It wasn’t social media that relentlessly took seriously all the moronic lawsuits filed by Donald Trump’s team of idiot lawyers. It was Fox News. It’s not social media that has any serious appeal outside the folks who are already conspiracy theorists. It’s Fox News.
But of course there’s nothing we can do about Fox News, is there? And they all dress so nicely, too. They can’t really want to overturn the peaceful transfer of power after an election, can they?
I have no idea what they really want to do. Maybe it’s all a game, maybe it’s just a way to make money, or maybe they really do want to overturn an election. But it doesn’t matter. Regardless of their intentions, they’re the ones responsible for this insurrection. And we aren’t completely helpless to stop them, either. We can start far more extensive advertising boycotts. We can shun anyone who works there. Mainstream news outlets could spend more time explicitly calling out their lies and debunking them. There are plenty of things we could do. I guess it never seemed really worth it before, but maybe it is now?